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Props to Young Adult Fiction. Mad props, actually. This genre has been on fire of late. Not just because of the “Girl on Fire,” who also deserves serious praise, but because of how high YA authors have raised the bar.
Great YA characters are not new, of course. Consider Holden Caulfield, Gene Forrester and Pony boy—all fabulous characters. I’m glad these books are still read in schools across America because they are an important part of our culture.
But there are some new kids on the block.
The school systems may not have caught up with these books yet, but you can. Here are five new teen characters that make the world a better place:
1. Laurence Roach from 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins.
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It’s impossible not to fall in love with Laurence Roach who, just to make him that much more appealing, narrates in an English accent. It’s definitely impossible not to fall in love with his little brother, Jay, who thinks he’s a dog. And it’s completely impossible not to want to rip their mother’s head off. But that’s what makes Laurence so admirable; he can’t. Mrs. Roach may be a sad alcoholic and an unfit mother, but she’s family. And Laurence Roach doesn’t give up family, even when it just might be the smarter choice.
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2. Bee Fox from Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.
Coming from Arrested Development, we would have expected nothing but clever from author Maria Semple. Bee Fox is a perfectly rendered teenage daughter. She captures the reader’s heart despite her frequent sarcasm because, well, sometimes she’s got a point. Her mother is a nutcase, her father is an intellectual outcast, and she’s been promised a trip to Antarctica for getting straight A’s—which they suddenly can’t deliver. Yet, instead of slamming her door and burrowing herself inside her bedroom for days, Bee takes action. Not only does she outthink the adults around her, she saves them—in ways that will surprise you. (Warning: This epistolary may cause a few people to get a speeding ticket of the brain, but trust me, it’s worth the risk.)
3. Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.